Allegheny County Officials: Keep Wearing Your Mask for Now
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says “We're not there yet” on reopening.
February’s encouraging news about the decline in cases, hospitalization and deaths related to COVID-19 will not signal a return to normalcy in March in Allegheny County.
Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen says that while the number of cases has leveled off and hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline, it’s too early to return to activities that are likely to increase the spread of the virus.
“We have again started to hear that sports teams are having social gatherings, people are hosting parties and some reports indicate a lack of mask-wearing and lack of physical distancing,” Bogen says. “We are so close to being able to safely hold such events again, but not yet.”
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says he doesn’t want to see a repeat of last summer when the region went into the Green Phase in June, people let down their guard, and cases spiked in early July. He says it’s too early to expect a decision, such as the one made in Texas, to lift the mask mandate and allow businesses to reopen at 100% of capacity.
“We’re not there yet,” he says. “Hopefully in a couple of months when more and more people get vaccinated, we will be there. But what’s been great about this region is the level of cooperation, people following our medical experts and taking their advice.”
Bogen says vaccination distribution is improving and the state is now able to give better advance notice on how many doses the county will receive each week. The health department plans to open more mass vaccination sites, like the ones in Monroeville and Castle Shannon, once doses are available.